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Putin offers Zimbabwe a presidential helicopter

Putin offers Zimbabwe a presidential helicopter
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Zimbabwe ...   -  
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Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS Host Photo Agency


Vladimir Putin has offered a helicopter to the president of Zimbabwe, the country's government announced on Thursday, as the Russian leader seeks the support of African leaders meeting in St Petersburg.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is among the African leaders attending a two-day Russia-Africa summit seen as a test of Putin's support on the continent after the invasion of Ukraine.

"His Excellency President Putin offered a presidential helicopter to His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa", wrote the Zimbabwean Ministry of Information on social networks.

It published photos of Mr Mnangagwa descending the steps of the aircraft and sitting in the cabin in front of a table set with glasses of white wine and a bowl of fruit.

"This bird will soon be in our skies", added government spokesman Nick Mangwana on Twitter, renamed X.

Zimbabwe's leaders have been targeted by American and European sanctions for corruption and human rights violations.

Mr Mnangagwa, 80, who is seeking re-election in what analysts predict will be a close election next month, has long blamed the sanctions for his country's economic woes.

"The victims of sanctions must cooperate", said Mr Mnangagwa, standing in front of the helicopter, in a video published by his Ministry of Information.

On Thursday, Mr Putin named Zimbabwe as one of six African countries that will receive free grain from Russia, after the Kremlin withdrew from the agreement allowing Ukrainian grain exports to transit through the Black Sea.

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